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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is addiction medicine and what makes it different from other fields of practice?

Addiction medicine is an interdisciplinary practice specializing in the identification and treatment of persons whose disorders are caused or exacerbated by the use of addictive substances. Such substances have the unique property of promoting continued use in a compulsive manner despite adverse consequences to the user. In our society, the most notable offending substances are nicotine, alcohol, opiates, stimulant drugs and marijuana.

What is addiction?

Addiction is a brain disease characterized by the continued use of a specific psychoactive substance despite physical, psychological or social harm.

What is the difference between drug addiction and drug abuse?

Many people assume that addiction is simply an overuse of drugs, and that the addict is just a drug user who chooses to use too much. But research has shown that addiction, unlike casual drug use, is no longer a matter of free choice.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association all define this state of driven, compulsive use as the essence of addiction.

Someone who abuses drugs may suffer negative consequences from using, as the addict does, but generally can and does stop when these consequences become too severe.

Where can I get help?

If you are dependent on alcohol or any drug, talk to a family member or your doctor. Seek treatment. You can also get help through community programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

What services are offered by specialists in addiction medicine?

Prevention, diagnosis, detoxification, consultation, program development, research, treatment of medical or psychiatric complications and relapse.

What does outpatient treatment involve?

The Center for Addiction Medicine program for addiction to illicit drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol and problem gambling is based on the educational LIVING IN BALANCE matrix developed by Hazelden. This unique approach is most effective in a group setting with others who are also on the road to recovery.

The program consists of six weeks of four morning or evening groups per week. Each group is three hours. Family and/or other relationships are requested to participate in one of these group sessions per week.